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A Kumquat Uprising

Dear Reader,

Years ago, a friend tried to explain what a kumquat is. "It's a fruit, gold-orange, a bit tart, flesh like a peach." My blank look prompted him to continue, "Just look for one in the grocery store."

I finally encountered a kumquat. Last week, a woman held out a basket of fruit to me, mostly familiar items. Bananas, plums, grapes, kiwi, apples, and something smooth-skinned, egg-shaped, peachy-orange colored. "Kumquat," she said when I reached for the latter. "Do I peel it? Or can I eat the skin?" "Yes, you must peel it, and watch out for the pit. It's rather big." I took one from the basket and began to peel it. The skin was soft and fuzzy, like young velvet and it stripped off easily. It didn't emit a strong fragrance the way other Asian fruit like durian or jackfruit might. Inside, the flesh was almost the same color as the peel. It was juicy and sweet in an understated way, its flavor registering just underneath the strength of a fully ripened mango or peach. The texture of this kumquat was firm but yielding to my teeth. I held the moist flesh in my bare fingers and ate it slowly, trying to commit the taste and feel of it to memory. "So this is a kumquat." Associations with other fruit, with my friend's explanation, with children's songs were strengthened and extended as I consumed the fruit. Kumquats are not as exotic and inaccessible now as they once were because I have held one, smelled it, and peeled and tasted it.

In reading this issue's offerings on the war of 1899, perhaps you will find yourself symbolically faced with a basket of fruit in the shape of historical essays, fiction and poetry. Some of the ideas will be familiar, some you will be tasting for the first time. Read through—find the photographic images and dramatic narratives new to your mind's senses, allowing you associative entrance to this turning point in the Philippines' history as a republic. Come in, take a bite, find the flavor recorded in carefully archived documents and add this to your cache of intellectual building blocks as you continue to shape the home of our country's past with your own sensibilities. This may be the first time you read Filipino history from the Filipino perspective—our story in our voice.

In this issue, we're proud to feature fine writing by Mila Aguilar, Vince Gotera, Aileen Ibardaloza, Ferdinand Llanes, Diego Silang Maranan, Ed Maranan, Rene Navarro, Teresita Martinez Sicat, Leny Stroebel, Eileen Tabios, Helen Toribio, and Rey Ventura.

Come, take a fruit from the basket. Maybe you'll choose a kumquat.

Nadine Sarreal
12 April 2003


Call for Submissions

You're surfing the net. Or reading an email. You find a poem, a photo, a piece of visual art, a short story, a multi-media collaboration-something that grabs you and pulls you under that you write something back in response, pure response.

If you have a poem, a story, an essay, a photo or some other visual file that you created in response to another electronic work, please heed our call for submissions!

Fiction and essays should be no more than 4,000 words. Poetry should be one page in length. Visual work will be accepted in jpeg format as long as file size does not exceed 100 KB.

Focus and theme of submissions should still be Filipino, op kors!

Deadline is 21 May 2003. Send to our_own_voice@yahoo.com.

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